July 2021

July 2021 Activity Summary Report

Thanks to our pressure: The Government is on its way to set up a commission of inquiry regarding the Submarines Affair!

Our efforts start to bear fruit! At the beginning, several ministers had various reasons for doubting the idea of having a commission of inquiry for the Submarines Affair. Alongside our demonstrations and together with 52 ex-seniors of the security establishment (Chiefs of the General Staff, Major Generals, Mossad directors and ex-seniors of the Defense Ministry) we demanded from the Government to establish a commission of inquiry. Further on, and together with security establishment seniors, we met with ministers Gantz, Saar, Lapid and Horowitz, and got rather effective consequences: Gantz and Saar announced they will formally commence discussions and operations between their two Ministries in order to bring about the establishing of a commission of inquiry. Having the commission so near-by is a huge achievement, but the struggle continues on all fronts: we petitioned the Supreme Court once more in demand to publish the reasons for closing files against certain people involved in the Submarines Affair.

We petitioned the Supreme Court: NO to the Party Split Law that the government wishes to pass!

This law would encourage Knesset members’ opportunistic behavior. There is no need of a law that encourages defection – we’ve had enough of this the last two years! Problematic as well is the fact that the law will apply from now on  and not in the next Knesset and will be relevant to only two parties – Halikud and Yesh Atid, each of them with over 12 Knesset Members. These facts lead to the suspicion of a personal legislation.

 A drama concerning the gas outline: Following our demand, the Competition Authority re-examines part of the outline

Due to our demand and to breaching the gas outline by the giant gas companies, the Competition Authority intends to re-examine parts of the outline. We warned the Authority of these companies’ breaching the outline’s exclusivity clause, an act that joins many other breaches at the expense of the public coffers. Adding the low rate of taxes actually paid by the gas companies to the State, a re-examination of the gas outline is essential.

NO to an inflated government of 28 ministers and 5 deputy-ministers!

That the chair-pursuing phenomenon in Israeli politics is still alive and kicking we have realized when the government confirmed the appointments of Knesset Members Eli Avidar and Yair Golan – the first as Minister without Portfolio, the other as  deputy Minister of Economy. Whatever for is there need of a minister without portfolio, a job that robs millions of Shekels per year for an office, a chauffeur, assistants and regular expenditures – all at the expense of the Israeli tax-payer? Is there any need of a fifth deputy-minister at the cost of millions of public money as well? Instead of setting up a lean, economical, effective government that will truly act for the Public’s good and deny favors and offices, the present government wishes to change a Basic Law just for the possibility of appointing two deputy ministers. Adding another deputy minister at the Prime Minister Office will cost no less than ILS 3.3 million a year. This contempt for the public and its money must be stopped!   

An important achievement: At last a bit of transparency concerning the gas profits – the Tax Authority will publish the information!

We demanded from the Ministry of Finance and the Tax Authority to expose to the public an updated forecast of the Public’s profits from the natural gas project, including the profits of the gas companies that in our opinion take advantage of the State’s limited capacity of enforcement and collection and refrain from paying taxes.We have been delighted to realize that due to our efforts the Tax Authority accepted our stance and will expand the Public’s Right to Know. This way, for the first time ever the Public will be able to get to know new data concerning the profits’ forecast and the taxable profits that the gas companies accumulated out of using a national natural resource.

Will Bituach Leumi‘s fault cost the Public hundreds of thousands of Shekels?

Already years ago a reform had been decided upon, by which Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute) will have an efficient and coordinated method of collecting from the various insurance companies the payments they owed to injured clients (for example victims of road accidents). The regulations should have been passed already in 2018 together with the Economic Efficiency Law, but the Law’s directions hadn’t been applied whereas several Ministers of Finance came and went. If the regulations are not accepted, Bituach Leumi will lose Public money worth hundreds of thousands of Shekels that will remain in the insurance companies’ pockets. We had warned the Minister of Finance and all relevant factors already a month ago, when we demanded to advance the necessary regulations so that Bituach Leumi will be able to get its due money collectively from the insurance companies.

How did we initiate a move that obliged Thyssenkrupp to pay its EUR 300 million debt to the State of Israel?

In spite of the five years passed since signing the agreement by which Thyssenkrupp pledged to invest hundreds of thousands in Israel’s economy, the company did not keep its pledge. We demanded from the Economy, Finance and Justice Ministries to enforce the agreement, put Thyssenkrupp on the blacklist and make the company pay compensations to the State. Thanks to our stubborn efforts, news came that the Ministry of Economy and Industry and Thyssenkrupp agreed about the company’s paying its over EUR 300 million debts within the coming five  years.

An update on our petition to the Supreme Court: At last the State will have to provide answers to the question why Netanyahu will not return funds he received unlawfully from his cronies

The Supreme Court issued a decree nisi regarding our petition against the Permits Committee stance in the case of these funds. Now the State will have to explain why Netanyahu will not return the $ 300,000 “gift” he received from his cousin Nathan Milikowsky and why he did not apply to the Permits Committee about the ILS 2 million “loan” he received from Partridge.

Was Deri’s son instructed how to deceive Bituach Leumi (National Insurance Institute)? We contacted the police’s National Fraud Investigation Unit (Yacha) regarding the affair that raised suspicion of fraud amounting to tens of millions of shekels

In 2014 a Bituach Leumi’s employee arrived at Yacha’s offices and informed that the institute’s Deputy Director General asked him to explain to two representatives of private companies (one of them Deri’s son) the possible methods of cheating Bituach Leumi. The reason given for this move was the need of preventing stealing from the institute, an issue those two representatives could have allegedly helped with. According to the employee, after receiving comprehensive explanations regarding the most effective fraud methods, the two men established a consulting company. Then, information began arriving about false reports the company allegedly submitted in order to swindle Bituach Leumi out of enormous amounts of money! We in the Movement have been dealing with this affair for years and now, after the media exposed it to the public we demanded from Yacha once again to investigate. We emphasized that we have been holding documents and data that had never been investigated so that reopening the case must be considered.

State Budget for less than two months? We petitioned the Supreme Court!

No state on earth would have ever approved a budget for a time period of less than two months. However in Israel, a state economically paralyzed and conducting without a budget for three years now, politicians have been trying to change Basic Laws in order to postpone the budget’s approval with at list another 45 days by having  a constitutional amendment that is unconstitutional and through an illegal extending of the Knesset’s tenure. We petitioned the Supreme Court!

Kirschenbaum’s penalty is appropriate, but where is the money?!

10 years imprisonment is an appropriate punishment for former Deputy Minister Faina Kirschenbaum who had been convicted of grave corruption. An elected official who used public money as if it were her own should be punished most severely! We hope that the Court’s clear message will echo the warning to each and every politician tempted by corruption: This Is Not Worthwhile! Parallel to the criminal procedure we demanded also from the Civil Enforcement Unit to submit against Kirschenbaum a civil lawsuit due to the economical damages caused by her corruptive conduct. Being punished is not enough – she must return the money she obtained.

Doctors should not be abandoned in the midst of a pandemic

We had warned repeatedly, yet the former government cut 600 jobs of medical staffs added to the health system at the pandemic’s peak. Nowadays, when corona wards are reopening, there are not enough standards for the needed professional staffs. We required The Ministers of Health and of Finance to budget these standards as soon as possible and to turn them into permanent ones. The State of Israel is in need of a stable and robust health system, in the time of pandemics as well as regularly.

We contacted Minister of Public Security Omer Bar-Lev following a media investigation according to which police seniors claimed that the fight against corruption has been abandoned

An article published this month in Haaretz newspaper presented testimonials of Police senior officers that describe a most bothering picture according to which the Police top abandoned the highly significant combat against government corruption and so resources of 433 Unit have been used for other issues. One police factor said: “There are no large-scale investigations anymore, no activating of agents, no efforts invested in recruiting State witnesses”. According to the above mentioned publication, the reason for this situation is not only feet dragging but also the police people’s heavy fear of messing with the political system. Due to this information we demanded from Minister Bar-Lev to invest efforts in making sure that the fight against corruption will continue in full force.

Some of the Movement’s activities in the municipal level for this month

We joined as amicus curiae (Friend of the Court) in a legal procedure concerning Tel Aviv municipality’s intention to expropriate public areas in Atarim Square for the sake of constructing high-rises intended for the top decile. * We demanded from the Ministry of Interior to impose personal charge on Kiryat Motzkin Mayor whose conduct caused the municipality to pay ILS 11,000 to a councilor. The idea of having the Public pay for a Mayor’s problematic conduct is intolerable. * We demanded from the Ministry of Interior to use all of its authority in order to supervise Or Akiva Municipality, whose Mayor had been arrested on criminal suspicion and was ordered to keep away from the place. Due to these facts, the Municipality is not functioning; a solution must be found.

More from the Movement’s desk for this month

We related to Knesset Member Abir Kara’s double voting: the case must be examined thoroughly and the law applied in full. Further on, the case had been inspected in the Knesset. * We contacted Attorney General Mandelblit concerning the fear of his having conflict of interests when he heads the committee that recommends candidates for the appointment of Deputy Attorney General while one of the candidates is his crony – Adv. Gil Limon. * We warned the Minister of Finance of succumbing to the banks’ pressures in formulating the Open Banking Reform. The banks demanded the right of receiving payments for providing, due to the reform, information regarding their clients. In the Movement’s opinion, this would be a hard blow to competition. * Together with Adam, Teva V’din (People, Nature and Law) organization we held a conference dealing with the linkage between issues of proper administration and government quality and issues of environment quality. * Regarding our petition against the discriminating Recruitment Law, the State once again requested to postpone implementing the ruling that disqualified the discriminating Recruitment Law. We informed the Court that we have been opposing this request – the current Security Service Law must be applied to all citizens. * We carried out the annual ceremony of granting Knight of Government Quality awards. * We demanded from the relevant ministers to ensure that the companies partnering in the gas outline will maintain the agreement they signed and will fulfill their obligation to invest $500 million in Israel’s economy. We also warned the ministers of the state of preserving the gas monopoly due to the new agreement between Noble Energy and Isreal Electric Company. * There must be a clear strategy concerning the Captives Issue. We demanded from the Ministers to initiate a public debate on Shamgar Report’s recommendations for redemption of captives and missing persons. This report had been submitted to the government already in 2012 – following Gilad Shalit’s release from Hamas captivity – but has never been discussed by the government. * A hearing was held on our petition against postponing the repayment of a loan granted to the Ministry of Defense. It is not just about bypassing the budget’sconstrains but also about a gigantic waste of public money. The deal’s interest alone will cost the Public some ILS 800 million! Judge Amit accepted our argument of principal that there was a legal issue about this move. * We demanded Knesset Member David Bitan’s resignation following the indictment filed against him. * We demanded from the Attorney General to order a criminal investigation of Meron Disaster: A committee should not replace such investigation! Following the Government’s announcement of establishing a State Committee of Inquiry for Meron Disaster, The AG decided to terminate the criminal investigation of relevant suspects. It is essential to understand that though such a committee is able to examine the processes of making decisions, it has got no capacity to exhaust the criminal law regarding persons who were held accountable! Caution must be taken: investigating only by the Committee might help suspects in coordinating false versions that the State will find difficult to refute afterwards. * Getting out of the Ottoman Era at last? We bless the move of Minister of Justice Gideon Saar who published a draft for the Public’s remarks regarding rules of applying transparency and supervision to the Ottoman Societies – just as we have been demanding for years now. The target is to put an end to a situation by whichthe local economy’s most powerful factors act under privileged conditions and are also exempt from maintaining transparency. * We demanded from Minister of Transport Michaeli to rectify the injustice done to the whistleblower in Ashdod Port: The Public owes a lot to Yuval Cohen, who exposed wasting of public money and many safety deficiencies in Ashdod Port. Consequently, Cohen has been suffering from severe harassment by various persons in the Port. We demanded from Minister Michaeli: Act immediately for protecting this whistleblower!